There's probably more to be said about the exact way the Bulls season ended, but it seems to matter less than the simple fact that it's over. There are a ton of really tough and complicated questions facing this team: how they can re-load while also recuperate.
But for now, there are the parting words of a couple of Bulls, who spoke with the media after going through their day of exit interviews. Bulls.com has the full quotes from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Nothing was earth-shattering, but there does seem to be a common theme:
I think the unfortunate part of this year is we didn't measure up against the teams we wanted to measure up against. I personally believe this group can compete against anybody, the Heat, anybody.
Wouldn't you guys love to see us at full strength and completely healthy when the playoffs start. We haven't had that yet.
As tough as it is for us, it has to be insanely rougher for the Bulls not to get their rematch with Miami. Because I'm guessing they were more confident of their chances than we (or at least, I) were.
I do hope that the players keep this confidence, as much as it sounds like the Celtics annoying 'nobody's beaten our starting five when healthy!' mantra of the past few seasons. But it was more than Rose's injury ruining the championship dream; as while I've seen the storytelling of 'everything was going well' before that happened, it just wasn't true. Derrick was never healthy, and in fact that may have contributed to the season-ending injury. Luol Deng wasn't at full capacity. We potentially saw some flaws revealed in the supporting cast when the spotlight shone on them in the Sixers series. Even in the nearly-impossible state of complete health, they'd probably be underdogs against the Heat.
The organization has a job to not assume that things were going just fine. Insteadl ook to improve a team that is indeed really good when all together, but may not be that same group anytime soon. It's a difficult task.
Other notes from the final official day of the season.
- Noah said he intends to play for Team France in the Olympics. And that his ankle was likely not going to recover for a Saturday Game 7 if it had occurred.
- Following the season-ending loss, Luol Deng reiterated his desire to play for Team Great Britain this summer, and then decide on wrist surgery afterwards. That timeline would affect the start of next season.
- Ronnie Brewer told ESPNChicago that GarPax told him they will do all they can to bring him back next year. Again, it won't be easy, and Brewer's actually the most likely to go, as the Bulls have a cheaper in-house replacement (theoretically) in Jimmy Butler.
- In the wake of his poor series and brainfarts in the final game, CJ Watson's name has been brought up a lot as to who should be cut. That's something far less likely in my opinion, as his deal is very reasonable (1yr, $3.2m) and the Bulls are going to need extra PG help with Rose sidelined.
- Some other 'informed speculation' from those that cover the team: offers to restricted free agent Omer Asik will be matched, and Carlos Boozer 'will be back'.